Thursday, July 25, 2013

Morinaga Summer Amazake (product information)

One of my former coworkers, a British woman prone to stealing our German potatoes when we went out to restaurants to eat with her, told me that her grandmother was sick and likely to pass away soon. I told her how sorry I was, but she said that there was no reason to be sad because her grandmother was "ready" to shuffle off this mortal coil. She said that her grandmother, who was in her late 80's, had seen the world change so much since she was born that it exhausted her. When her granny was born, there were no airplanes and her son ended up being a pilot. The world had come so far so relatively fast that she felt out of place and ready to move on.

We often don't think about how fast things have changed because they do so seemingly gradually within the span of our lifetimes. However, even within my 48 years, lifestyles have dramatically changed. If a person could live to be 300, I'm sure that their 20-year-old self would find the world that their 299-year-old self would mundane was amazingly different.

When we think about such changes, we usually focus on technology - computers, internet, cell phones, locks that no longer require keys and shopping that no longer requires cash. However, there are other ways which take a little more attention to detail and one of those is seasonal food. When I was a kid, we could only get oranges "in season". These days, you can get nearly any food year-round (though location does matter to some extent), but the price is affected by availability. The world has grown smaller in such a way that produce that can be grown somewhere far away can make it to our local stores before it spoils, at least with the help of some chemicals.

I thought about this when I discovered that Morinaga is selling summer amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink with a low alcohol level). Usually, amazake is sold as a warm drink in winter and is fairly common at shrines during New Year's celebrations. It's a winter seasonal thing, but not Morinaga is offering it chilled, freeze-dried, and frozen for summer enjoyment.

The question I thought about was why this drink hasn't been positioned this way regularly for decades. Why limit it to winter consumption? Well, the reason is that we get into habits and forget to change. We build a little mental box that says there is a time and a place for such things even when there is no longer a reason. Frankly, I like it when companies do things like this because I think that thinking outside of that unnecessary box is good for us. I know they just want to sell more drinks, but, if it gets people thinking about doing something outside of routine, it's all for the good. 

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